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Tammy Massey, age 12, of Laconia, N.H., for her question:


Distemper is a common contagious disease of young dogs. It usually begins with loss of appetite, chills, fever, reddened eyes and dry muzzle. The dog should be under the care of a veterinarian. Distemper can be treated by giving the dog antiserum and other drugs.

Distemper can also be prevented by vaccination with specially prepared vaccines. Dogs that have recovered from one attack of distemper are immune to later attacks. Distemper of young horses is called strangles. It is caused by streptococcus equi (unital) bacteria and differs from distemper in dogs. The horse suffers from a sore throat, fever and infection in the lymph glands. Strangles can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.

Distemper is caused by a virus discovered by Louis Carre of France in 1904.

Cats can contract distemper although it is a different type of disease than that which strikes young dogs.



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